Just discovered (thanks to my lovely wife) the Netflix series Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories … 20 minute “appetizers”, where (as described by the producers) “patrons of an otherwise mundane Japanese diner find simple yet profound connections with one another based on the shared love of a particular dish”. The 12-seat Izakaya is the setting for the anthology (now in its fifth season), based on a manga by the same name, with each episode named after a unique Japanese entree (its preparation part of the story). It feels perfect for our times....

This was a hastily put together playlist of mostly older 80s and 90s songs that reflects my current feelings of isolation and frustration, colored with a bit of anger and maybe a dash of optimism. I was inspired to start this while listening to a song by Ought and heard the lyrics, "today, more than any other day, I am excited to go grocery shopping!" That about sums it up. There are plenty of obvious titles here that may be a bit too "on-the-nose," but they all reflect my current quarantine-inspired mood. Yes, it smells like quarantine spirit! What are the songs that you're playing right now to get through this? We’ll do a post soon with songs that are more of a soothing balm to this situation, as opposed to a frustrated reaction....

Not the best of years, but certainly not the worst in terms of new music. Here's my rundown of the records that I listened to the most or that hit me the hardest in 2019. This is a mostly somber and introspective collection of music that sounds more like soundtrack music than indie-pop rockers. One of these actually is a soundtrack. There were some notable exceptions, like French Vanilla and Snapped Ankles – records that made me want to drive fast aimlessly, or maybe just dance while washing the dishes....

The closing of the year is somewhat bittersweet, as its the first year that NEITHER of our offspring joined us to cut down a Xmas tree (our inconsistent tradition since moving to Oregon). It would be great if their absence was for ideological reasons, instead of indifference...

Heartbreak, the second album from Unloved, has finally dropped and it’s a stunner. Like their debut, Guilty of Love (released three years ago!), Heartbreak is another satisfying serving of 60s girl-group sounds, with hints of vintage foreign soundtracks, murky lounge music, and mellow hip-hop. All of these elements work together to propel songwriter Jade Vincent’s songs about “love” (of course) straight into to your heart via your brain. Vincent, whose voice flows out in a seductively languid style demanding to be heard, together with producer/composer Keefus Ciancia, and DJ and producer/composer David Holmes have created what is already on my shortlist of Best Albums of 2019....

Here's my list of favorite songs of 2018 – an odd collection to say the least. Favorite song of the year? That’d be “Onion” by Shannon and The Clams (pictured above). It was the earworm that just kept burrowing further and further into my brain. The overarching trend here seems to be mellow 60s-influenced pop gems with a few indie head-bangers to break-up the cool vibe. These songs were a soothing balm for the tumultuous and stressful year that was. ...

This year will be forever remembered as THE year that the holidays traumatized me…Thanksgiving by itself was something worthy of a John Hughes film – substituting the (now) politically incorrect humor (racial stereotypes? rapey boyfriends?) with just plain hostility. Sooo, music was more important than ever – and some really good headphones…...

I’ve grown so weary of the same old holiday music played year after year. Even some of the things we used to listen to that were new and novel (Cha-Cha Christmas anyone?) are starting to sound a little long in the tooth. So, I started making a playlist that’s comprised of mostly new songs by more obscure and new indie artists, not just a bunch new takes on classic songs. Here's the list. Put some whiskey in your nog and give it a listen. Hope you like it!...

All in all, 2018 was a pretty decent year for music, both on record and on stage. As always, when I look at other year-end lists I discover things I missed, or never even heard before. There are no big surprises on this list – these are the albums that stuck with me the most over the year, so they lean more towards “favorites” that what I think of as “best.” Without further ado, here’s my list of 25 albums of the year in purposely random order. Check ’em out and let me know if you agree, disagree or something in-between....

For the most part, we get a pretty good range of bands that stop in lil’ old Portland on the way to-and-from Seattle and San Francisco. Heck, sometimes more esoteric bands make this their only West Coast stop. “Why?” you ask. Probably because we have a large and supportive community of open-minded rabid music lovers here. Heck, once it starts raining all we have left to do is sit inside and listen to music and make things! Here's my list of favorite shows I saw in Portland in 2018 in date order:...

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